Risk & Compliance

Citigroup Discloses FIFA Bribe Probe Subpoena

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether banks should have raised alarms about money transfers linked to allegedly corrupt FIFA officials.
Matthew HellerFebruary 29, 2016

Citigroup has become the first major U.S. bank to receive a subpoena from federal prosecutors investigating corruption at FIFA, world soccer’s governing body.

The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York has been looking into whether banks should have raised alarms about money transfers linked to FIFA officials who were indicted on corruption charges in May.

More than 20 banks including HSBC and JPMorgan Chase were identified in the indictment as having been used by the officials to allegedly transfer and receive bribe payments.

In a regulatory filing, Citigroup said Friday it had received a subpoena seeking “information relating to, among other things, banking relationships and transactions at Citibank and its affiliates associated with certain individuals and entities identified as having had involvement with the alleged corrupt conduct” at FIFA.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that prosecutors have questioned HSBC Holdings, Standard Chartered, and Delta National Bank & Trust Company. “We have received inquiries from the [Justice Department] regarding our banking relationships with certain individuals and entities that are or may be associated with FIFA,” an HSBC spokesman said Friday.

Credit Suisse Group said in October that authorities from both the U.S. and Switzerland are investigating whether the lender and other banks processed “suspicious or otherwise improper transactions” related to FIFA, or failed to observe anti-money-laundering laws.

“The scrutiny creates the potential for new headaches for the financial industry over its money-laundering controls, which are increasingly under the regulatory microscope,” the WSJ said.

Prosecutors alleged in the indictment that 14 current and former executives at FIFA pocketed $150 million in bribes and payoffs. The charges eventually led to the resignation of FIFA’s long-time President Sepp Blatter.